NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – The National Assembly Finance, Trade and Planning Committee has suspended hearing the petition seeking removal of Auditor-General Edward Ouko from office, after the High Court issued interim orders halting further proceedings.
This was after Parliament’s Director of Litigation and Compliance Anthony Njoroge confirmed that they had been served with the order barring the committee from continuing to receive evidence on the matter until it is determined by the courts.
Committee Benjamin Langat (Ainamoi) consequently said the he will refer the issue to Speaker Justin Muturi to give the way forward since it touches on the separation of powers.
“This is our new Constitution and those are our courts doing their job. I therefore rule that we suspend the committee sittings on the matter of the removal of the Auditor General and since we are the creature of the House, I will be proceeding to the House to seek guidance from the Speaker so that we have a clear way forward because the matter is very weighty. We will not be hearing any witness until then,” said the Committee Chairperson.
The order was issued Monday by Justice Chacha Mwita in a case against Parliament filed by activist Okiya Omtatah.
Justice Mwita is handling the case by Omtatah who argues that there is a spirited campaign to have Ouko removed from office yet he is a diligent and dedicated worker.
Jubilee Coalition MPs Ronald Tonui (Bomet Central), Rahim Dawood (North Imenti), Mary Emasse (Teso South) said the courts are setting a bad precedent by interfering with the processes of Parliament.
“I am beginning to believe there is some truth in what the petitioner is claiming. If we are stopped from hearing this petition at this elementary stage it shows some panicking, and the panicking leads us to think the Auditor-General is guilty of something he only knows, he should not have gone to court,” Tonui said.
“It would have just been fair that we would have been able to continue and finish the process. The Court have once again interfered with our process and stopped us from doing what we are supposed to do,” Dawood noted.
CORD MPs Oburu Oginga (Nominated) and Dalmas Otieno (Rongo) agreed with the decision to defer the hearing.
On his part Oginga added; “Even my brother, Raila, was subjected to a very unfair ruling by the Supreme Court of Kenya, but he said he accepted the ruling but he did not agree with it.”
They called on the House to appeal the ruling if they were dissatisfied.
“We have our right as the Legislature to listen to a petition and determine its finding. But when a citizen moves to court and files an injunction. We all seek to empty that injunction through the courts process, where there is an appeal process, that should be the right way to do it but you cannot have the executive or the legislature to ignore the courts or any of other arms of the government.”
“But in this particular case they are saying we do not want you to proceed until we hear the pleadings of the parties in this particular case, if we do not want to wait for this particular period then the National Assembly will have to seek to vacate that injunction through filing of an appeal,” the Rongo MP stated.
The Finance Committee was on Tuesday scheduled to meet three witnesses starting with audit firm, Baker Tilly Merali’s, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and James Ochieng Oduol.
The audit firm has been named in the petition on the basis that it was the beneficiary of a contract from the Office of the Auditor-General at a time it was the external auditor of the same office recruited by Parliament.
Oduol is linked to OSI Kenya, the company from whom the Office of the Auditor-General bought software at a reportedly inflated price.